by Joe Bollig
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Two visiting bishops found friendship and fraternal ties here in the archdiocese during separate visits in October.
Bishop Hector Cubillos Peña, of the Diocese of Zipaquira in Colombia, visited from Oct. 2 to 5, and Bishop Prasad Gallela, of the Diocese of Cuddapah in India, was here from Oct. 13 to 16.
Both bishops were here for the same reasons: to look in on their own priests currently serving in the archdiocese and to meet and visit with Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann.
Both bishops are relatively young and new to their posts.
Bishop Cubillos, 58, was ordained a priest in 1974, appointed an auxiliary bishop in 2002, and installed as bishop of the Diocese of Zipaquira in 2004.
Bishop Gallela, 46, was ordained a priest in 1989 and ordained bishop of the Diocese of Cuddapah this past March.
During his stay in the archdiocese, Bishop Cubillos toured All Saints, Bishop Ward High and Resurrection schools in Kansas City, Kan., and spoke at Holy Cross Parish in Overland Park.
It was actually Bishop Cubillos’ predecessor who began loaning the archdiocese priests from the Diocese of Zipaquira. But Bishop Cubillos has continued that practice, allowing the archdiocese to bolster its Hispanic ministry program.
It is very important for the Diocese of Zipaquira to keep the missionary spirit of collaboration alive, both inside and outside his diocese, said Bishop Cubillos through interpreter Angel Delfin, assistant director of All Saints Parish’s school of religion and assistant director of the parish youth group.
The Diocese of Zipaqira has been blessed with many vocations to the priesthood, the bishop continued. As long as he has enough priests, the collaboration between the archdiocese and his diocese will continue.
For his part, said Bishop Cubillos, Archbishop Naumann is providing much-needed financial assistance to the Colombian diocese in its efforts to complete an important project of its own.
The construction of a new multipurpose facility will help meet several needs of the diocese: It will serve as a retreat house, a center for the continuing education of clergy, and a home for retired priests.
During his stay in the archdiocese, Bishop Gallela visited St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Onaga, Mother Teresa of Calcutta Parish in Topeka, Holy Sprit Parish in Overland Park, and Curé of Ars Parish in Leawood.
“[Bishop Gallela] is a very friendly man, very down to earth,” said Father Arul Carasala, St. Vincent pastor and a priest of the Diocese of Cuddapah. “He’s looking at the long-term vision for the Diocese of Cuddapah and making every effort possible in the pastoral, spiritual, and social administration of the diocese.”
One of the main objectives of Catholic bishops in India is evangelization, which isn’t easy in a country where 80 percent of the people are Hindu, 12 percent are Muslim, and only 2 percent are Christians.
“This mission is a challenge, but together with the priests and the people, the bishop is ready for the challenge,” said Father Carasala. “We, [his] priests working here in the United States, offer our unconditional support, financial assistance and prayers.”
As in Colombia, support from the archdiocese is deeply appreciated in the Diocese of Cuddapah. The four rural parishes served by Father Carasala, in addition to Mother Teresa Parish, have collected funds to support Bishop Gallela’s work.
The church in Cuddapah faces two great challenges: poverty and its minority status. Recently, Christians in nearby regions have been subjected to vicious attacks by militant Hindus, some even resulting in murder. It could spread to Cuddapah and endanger the lives of Christians there.
“To survive as a Catholic in a strong Hindu community, [in the face of] the state administration which opposes our existence, is a challenge,” said Father Carasala.
“The second main challenge is that our Catholics are from the poor economic class, and they struggle for their livelihood,” he continued. “Most of them are day laborers. We cannot preach the Gospel to a hungry stomach. We have to feed and evangelize. It’s a challenge, because the priests depend on the chancery for their support, because the parishes cannot support the priest.”